RSV surge as cases hit highest number ever recorded

Respiratory Syncytial Virus is a common respiratory virus that affects very young children
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.26 14 Dec 2023

Share this article

RSV surge as cases hit highest...

RSV surge as cases hit highest number ever recorded

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.26 14 Dec 2023

Share this article

The number of RSV cases in Ireland hit its highest number ever last week, the HSE has said.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.

Most people recover from RSV in a week or two but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.


It particularly affects children under a year old.

A little boy blowing his nose. A little boy blowing his nose. Image: Wanuttapong suwannasilp / Alamy

HSE National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead for Children Dr Ciara Martin told Newstalk Breakfast the exact reasons for the surge are unknown.

"We do expect a surge at this time every year," he said.

"I think during COVID we had very small numbers when people were isolating.

"We have felt that in the last couple of years where we've seen the highest-ever numbers, year-on-year, that it is because people's immunity has been low to RSV.

"We wouldn't know the exact cause for this high spike at the moment".

'Double the increase'

Dr Martin said the number of cases has been peaking at their highest levels ever recorded.

"Last year we had seen our highest number ever, and we were getting reported figures of 500 or more a week," she said.

"Last week we had over 900, so that's almost double the increase.

"This week it's a tiny bit lower at 800 but that's a lot of children and older adults presenting with RSV".


Dr Martin has said parents should watch their children and seek medical advice if necessary.

"The advice to parents is just to be vigilant and watch their children," she said.

"The symptoms are cough, wheeze and runny nose and not feeding as well - you get that with a lot of viruses.

"It must be said that most children with RSV will be fine.

"They'll have their infection for about a week or two and then it'll settle, though the cough may be there.

"The emergency signs for a very small baby is a baby who hasn't fed, whose not even taking half of what they normally feed.

"They may be blue around their lips, they may be floppy and pale or their breathing might be irregular.

"If you have any of those you should go to your nearest Emergency Department. If you're worried about your child's breathing in other ways go to your doctor".

Dr Martin said people can take precautions by keeping their hands clean, using cough and sneezing hygiene and keeping a distance from babies if they have a cough or cold.

More information and advice can be found on the webpage.

Main image: Sick little girl with a runny nose. Image: Martina Prosyanyk / Alamy

Share this article

Read more about

Advice Dr. Ciara Martin Hse Newstalk Breakfast RSV Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Most Popular